Gov. Joe Manchin and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Thursday learned that its $80 million Race to the Top (RTTT) application was eliminated during the first round of cuts. Of the 40 state RTTT applications received by the United States Department of Education (USDE), only 16 were chosen to proceed to the interview phase of the competitive grant process.
Gov. Joe Manchin said the state must quickly make the changes needed to compete for the second round of funding. The U.S. Department of Education has said it plans to release the findings from the first round of applications by early April.
"Obviously, I'm very disappointed we didn't make the cut for the first round of Race to the Top funding. Once we receive the results from our first application, we will have a better grasp of what it will take to qualify for the second round. We need to look at what the winning states are doing and what successes we can adopt here.
"After speaking with Dr. Paine today, we are committed to making the changes that allow West Virginia's students to build the skills they need to compete for jobs in the 21st century.
"If that means legislative action in a special session, we will do that. All of us must be working together -- the Department of Education, the state Board of Education, the Legislature, the Governor's Office, our schools and our teachers -- if we hope to make it in the second round.
"We must move quickly and we must move decisively to make this possible. It's too important for West Virginia not to take action."
Applications for round two of the federal education funding will be due in June 2010.
Race to the Top is one of several federal initiatives aimed at improving education quality in the United States. West Virginia's application outlined a comprehensive approach to reform that emphasizes four priority areas Standards and Assessments; Quality Teachers and Leaders; Comprehensive Data Systems; and Low Performing Schools and Struggling Students.
"We will work with the Governor, the Legislature, state Board of Education members, our local schools and teacher organizations to strengthen our proposal for the second round," said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. "We may have fallen short this round but I am fully committed to making sure West Virginia makes the changes we need to compete in the second round."
Race to the Top is important for West Virginia for several reasons. First, RTTT priorities align with the ongoing work of districts and schools across the state to equip students with 21st century performance skills. West Virginia's 21st century learning vision is called Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it. (www.global21wv.com). Second, RTTT highlights the areas of reform that will shape future federal education policy, including other funding opportunities, the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Finally, RTTT provides flexible funding to strengthen current educational infrastructure.
All 55 county districts in West Virginia elected to participate in RTTT by submitting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The state also received letters of support from institutions of higher education, business groups, foundations and teacher organizations, including both the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia (AFT-WV) and the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA).
To view West Virginia's full RTTT application, please visit http://wvde.state.wv.us/race-to-the-top.html, or contact the West Virginia Department of Education Communications Office at (304) 558 -- 2699.
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